The Gratuitous Dwanollah episode has turned into what I fear will end up the Gratuitous Dwanollah Season. My ego rivals Tori’s jugs... both of ‘em! *sigh* Onward....
Last week [or two or three] on 9021Uh-Oh:
- Brenda, many months gone with child, suffers panic attacks, depression and isolation from her “friends.”
- Brando the Mando has been demoted by the Beat-Off’s owner, Rush Sanders, and Ohndrea Zuckerman, Single Mom Mach II, has been hired in his stead.
- Terruh the Problem Child is still prowling the Zip Code disguised as Kara, Stevie’s newest love interest, but is waiting for her moment to confront Princess Kelly.
- The Beverly Beat-Me-Senseless is in a state of upheaval as The Women invade The Men’s turf, and Brandon and Steve try to cope with the trauma of working for a woman- no, make that a Jewish woman – No, no, a divorced Jewish woman with a baby. The horrors!
- And in a remote villa somewhere in Mexico, Dylan McKay-Marchette uses the Force.
Opening Credits of my personal favorite local LA wonders in all their Quintessential Jerky Over-Edited glory: cars jouncing through the El Niño- inflicted potholes all down Sepulveda; a row of burnt-orange skelitose babes bakin’ in their tanning booths; a rust-encrusted Dodge Dart cutting off a gleaming black Mercedes on the 405, and the Dart driver giving the Merc the finger as he passes; an unwashed homeless druggie sitting on a Melrose sidewalk under a wall of tattered advertising fliers, scratching his needle-track scabs and muttering; a panoramic view of the San Fernando Valley overhung with thick brown-gray haze; a bunch of fat, beleagured tourists in shorts and fanny-packs and big ol' white sneakers dodging trash (human and otherwise) on Hollywood Blvd.; traffic completely stopped on the 110 downtown, the harsh sun beating down; a couple dudes in baggy gansta-wear doing a drug deal in a local park, while children play on a slide behind them... and have I mentioned how much I LOVE LA?
The Beverly Beat offices.
Close up of Brandon’s furrowed, sweaty brow as he barks, “I said we’re running it, and that’s final!”
As the camera pulls back and twists around, we see B is nose-to-nose with Ohndrea. “It is NOT final! You are NOT the editor-in-chief here anymore, Brandon!” Ohndrea slams a printout down on the desk. Steve, David, Noah and Janet are massed in the background, mesmerized for individual reasons of their own: Janet, because she is amazed that someone is finally standing up to Der Fürher Walsh, Steve, because he’s waiting for an opportunity to throw in a Penisy quip directed toward that Uptight Bitch who thinks she’s boss and needs to be taken down a peg or two, Noah, because the sight of Brandon all worked up is really turning him on, and David – no, actually, David is shifting and twitching and looking around nervously with his hands in his big ol’ baggy pockets seeking out God only knows what.
“You’re afraid to run it! You can’t handle anyone’s opinion but your own!” Brandon accuses in his reminiscent-of-all-his-arguments-with-the-Other-sex attacktics.
But instead of getting defensive, Ohndrea stares at Brandon in amazement. “Opinion?” she finally splutters. “Brandon, your so-called front-page story on the ‘most ground-breaking community resource Beverly Hills has ever seen’ isn’t a matter of opinion... it’s a thinly veiled advertisement for Steve’s new strip club!”
“So?” retorts Brandon, stepping up his attack by turning on his Logical Voice. “Turning the Peach Pit After Dark into Peachy’s Gentlemen’s Club is one of the most controversial and innovative moves any nightclub in Beverly Hills has ever attempted! If that isn’t news, what is?”
“Actually,” Ohndra says deliberately, picking up a folder from her desk, “I’m running Daniel Drennan’s article on the socio-cultural developments of porn and its ramifications.”
“You’re just afraid to show an opposing point of view!” Brandon’s shellacked shelf-o’ hair is quivering with barely-suppressed indignation. (Any more sweat on his Furrowed Forehead, and the whole shelf may collapse like a Malibu hillside after a rain storm. )
Ohndrea sits down behind the editor’s desk (backbone straight, I might add), picking up Brandon’s copy. “ Brandon, I’m not running it because it’s poorly written, bombastic, self-serving, and completely lacking in any journalistic focus.”
“You know that’s not true! I’m a great journalist! Everyone says so. My parents... Steve... my ex-girlfriends at CU. I even won an award!”
“Ah, yes, the American Association of Independent Journalists . . . sort of the newspaper world’s equivalent to Who’s Who Among High School Students, huh? Which reminds me...” she reaches for a manila envelope, withdrawing a certificate, “The AAIJ, in association with the Lolita division of Sexx, Inc. sent you a lovely thank-you letter for the Beverly Beat’s ‘generous’ donation, and have given you a Big Red Hot Stud award. Perhaps we should frame it and hang it next to your other award?”
“Yeah yeah yeah real funny, Zuckerman. Give a woman a position of power over a man, and she totally runs amok with it.”
“Yeah! A woman shouldn’t have an opinion unless I give it to her!” crows Steve from the sidelines. David shifts, laughs, and deedles his hands in his pockets some more.
Both Ohndrea and Janet favor Steve with icy stares. Then Ohndrea turns calmly back to the Blustering Pudge Boy.
“I guess you could say it’s payback for senior year with Mr. Of-Course-I’m-Not-Sexist Gil Meyers, isn’t it, Brandon?” she says coldly. Before Brandon can make another attempt to shoot her down and put her in her place, Ohndrea hands Brandon another folder. “This is your assignment for next week’s new edition of the Beverly Beat... now the Southland Independent,” she says as Brandon shifts through the clipped pages.
“A ... restaurant review?” Brandon sneers.
“Yes. Allegra’s. [Note: This is not a real restaurant in Los Angeles. Sorry!] Not your typical overpriced California Cuisine. She only hires students who are putting themselves through college; in fact, she’s been known to give yearly bonuses to her hardest-working employees. There’s potential for good human-interest angle. And I hear the food is-“
But Brandon throws the folder down on her desk. “Listen, Ohndrea, I don’t do restaurant reviews! It would be like-“
“Like David Silver from Jasper’s Law writing deodorant and condom jingles?” suggests Janet, and David shuffles, shifts, laughs, and shifts some more.
“Exactly,” Ohndrea says, handing the folder back to Brandon. “Now Steve, for your assignment... I have a list of customers whose advertisements are no longer necessary or welcomed in the Independent. I need you to call them and inform them of the demise of the Beverly Beat and terminate their contracts. Anyone who has paid beyond monthly installments will be reimbursed. Can you handle it?”
“But Ohndrea... Naughty Nancy’s 900 Numbers? Happy Leaf Tobacco Company? The Leather and Lace Adult Bookstore? These are our best sponsors!” wails Stevie.
“Not anymore. Janet and I have trimmed the budget. It’s amazing how much money a newspaper can save when they no longer have a half-dozen of the editor’s friends on an excessive salary, not to mention expensing tri-weekly massages, limousine service, gym memberships, a small apartment in North Hollywood –“
“You got rid of Zoey’s apartm- ah, oops. You caught me,” says Stevie with an extra-wide thousand-watt grin.
Ohndrea, however, is immune to his suave and masculine charms. “That’s right.”
“I guess that means she’s cancelled next week’s meeting with the Spice Girls too, huh?” Steve says to Brando mournfully.
“Did you?” challenges Shelfhead.
“Cancelled their flights, their suites at the Beverly Wilshire, and the private tour of Disneyland.”
“That was news, Ohndrea!” Brandon protests with renewed fervor. “This would have been their first reunion since Ginger Spice left the group!”
“Pity. Now we’ll have to make due with an interview with Jean-Jacque Roland.”
“Who?” all four OPBs chorus (except Noah is a beat late and looking in the other direction, and David follows his own query with a shuffle and nose-laugh).
“Jean-Jacque Roland, the filmmaker. He’s being honored at a banquet at UCLA next week. This is the only time he’s ever been to Los Angeles, and I was fortunate enough to schedule a meeting with him in a couple of days.”
Brandon, Steve, Noah and David stare stupidly for several long moments before Steve’s jerky automatronic motions kick in again. “So, like, do you expect us to be impressed?”
But Ohndrea glances at him impassively before turning back to her work. “No, frankly, Steve, I didn’t expect anything of the sort.”
Scene: a remote Mexican jungle.
The sun is blazing through the trees like a white-hot iron coin. Odd bird and animal noises are heard, then the sound of something panting and running. From the thick growth bursts Dylan, in loose trousers and a tattered shirt with torn sleeves. Clinging to his back like a monkey is Anthony Marchette.
Dylan runs, his Big Fat Forehead creased in determination. He grunts as he leaps over a fallen log. With Marchette still hanging on, Dylan leaps gracefully again, grasping a tree branch and swinging himself and Marchette over a small rushing stream. He crosses an open gorge with a controlled aerial somersault.
Dismounting from Dylan’s shoulders, Marchette throws several clay pigeons in the air. Dylan pulls out a small pistol and quickly shatters all four before they fall to the ground.
“Good! Good!” Marchette praises as they sit together. “You’re progressing wonderfully, my son. Soon you will be ready to take your place at my side.”
But Dylan is distracted, and stares over at a tree with blackened, above-ground roots that form a cave. “Something’s not right...” he mumbles. “I feel... cold. I sense danger, death.” He stands and approaches the tree.
“It is strong with evil,” agrees Marchette. “You must go into it.”
Dylan stares REAL HARD (TM xix) at Marchette before turning back to the tree.
“Dylan.” Marchette interrupts his progression. “Don't forget your gun.”
Dylan catches the pistol Marchette tosses to him, and enters the tree-cave.
Darkness. The strange buzzing of insects. As Dylan moves forward, slimy dripping things brush against his face, his shoulders, and suddenly, he is engulfed by a massive, sticky web, as if spun by some gigantic spider. Thrashing, he escapes the mass and, bracing himself, continues forward.
An ominous sound. Dylan freezes, then turns slowly
Out of the darkness, it appears. No, not it.... They. Them.
Brenda. Kelly. Toni. One by one, dressed in flowing black, they immerge from the shadows and face him, smiling, holding out their arms.
The druggie guy leans forward, offering Dylan a hit, and then Erica is collapsing to her knees in front of a railroad track, crying “Dylan! If you ever loved me... if you ever were my brother...” Oops. Nope. Sorry. Scratch that.
Brenda. Kelly. Toni. They move forward, each calling his name, “Dylan... Dylan... Dylan!” in a rising, discordant cacophony.
“What?” screams Dylan. “What do you want? What do you want from me?!” all while gripping his forehead and really emoting.
“I’m your soulmate,” they each chant with winning smiles. “Dylan, I’m your soulmate.”
Dylan is all but frothing at the mouth. He looks from one to the other as they surround him. “Which one of you? Which one of you was my soulmate?” Dylan cries, writhing in agony. He turns to Brenda. “Bren...?” but she turns away from him. “Kel...?” he tries again, but Kelly’s creamy face, rosebud mouth and golden hair dissolve into the countenance of a twisted, misshapen old hag, cackling evilly and drooling. “Toni?” Dylan cries in desperation, but she turns to a pile of dust at his feet. “No! No! No!” he sobs, but behind him, there’s another movement.
Marchette steps from the shadows. “My son...” he says with Heavy Resonance.
“Why did you bring me here?” Dylan shouts. “Why? Why did you do this to me?” and he pulls out his gun and starts pumping bullets into Marchette, who staggers backwards with each hit. Finally, Marchette falls dead at Dylan’s feet.
Breathing heavily, Dylan stands over him. For a moment, the body was completely still. Then, suddenly, the head cracks and splits apart.
As Dylan stares in disbelief and horror, the smoke clears to reveal Dylan’s own face looking up at him. Then, just as suddenly, the head of Dylan attached to the body of Marchette disappears, a ghostly vision.
Dylan, openmouthed and visibly shaken, sinks to the ground, sobbing.
Okay. Casa Walsh. Brinda is sitting alone in the kitchen, slopping together peanut butter and jelly in a bowl and stirring it up, staring glumly. Her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and she has on a pair of cut-off sweats and an extra-huge T-shirt that doesn’t hide her huge, round mound of unborn bambino. Slathering the glop on a couple pieces of bread, shoulders slumped, she starts eating.
The back door opens and Valerie comes in, all decked out in one of those hiddy pleather ensembles with a rilly low-cut tank top, her hair all flat and stringy and blonde streaky in that latest Jennifer Aniston ‘do... make that a “don’t,” Val. Anyway, she has a couple shopping bags that she sets down on the kitchen counter. “Hey Bren. What’s up?”
“Nothing. Just fixing some dinner.”
“Dinner? Didn’t Brandon call you? The whole gang is coming over here for dinner. Kelly ordered Greek food from some new place in Santa Monica.”
“Oh. No, no one called me.”
“Really?” says Val in that half-perky/half-Heavily Significant/totally Quizzical way of hers. “I wonder why-“
“Good evening everybody!” Brandon singsongs as he bursts in the back door (no comment. Oh, hell, okay... Bursting in the back door is prolly something Brandon really enjoys). He, of course, after a hard day at work, is all decked out in one of his completely unmatching pseudo-hip trouser/jacket/dark-colored-shirt and rilly hiddy tie combos, and carting several Gelson’s bags. Kelly is right behind, with an armful of flowers and several bottles of wine, giggling damply and chirping “Hello.” As Kelly takes down a vase for the flowers and starts taking fresh produce and fancy wrapped things out of the bag, like she exists for these Domestic Moments. And of course she’s ultra-Ally McBealed in a Itty Bitty Suit (TM me) with itty bitty barrettes clipped in her itty bitty strands of hair with her itty bitty matching earrings and necklace complimenting the itty bitty watch dangling from her itty bitty wrist, and her itty bitty rosebud lips are all pursed as she takes itty bitty pleasure in her itty bitty life... having a tasteful dinner party for The Gang to prove her [yes, you got it] itty bitty worth and self esteem. Anyway, she pauses just for a second to exclaim “Brinda! Why are you already eating? Don’t you want to come to my dinner party? Brandon, can you get me the tablecloth out of that drawer?” And she moves Brinda’s PB&J Glop bowl away to make room for the marinated prawns or heads of endive and kale or vegetarian rumaki or whatever it is she’s fishing out of the grocery bags in her Blissful Domesticated Sophisticate (or is it Sophisticated Domesticate?) frenzy. The doorbell rings, and Kelly coos “Oh! That must be the food! Let them in will you, Brandon? I need to go change.” and off she whirls after smacking Brandon wetly on the cheek with her sour-candy little lips.
I mean, yes, I know this is all in good fun, but seriously, how many times do the 90210 writers promote those Ultra Domestic Couplehood Stereotypes that, to misquote Val, just BUG me?
So Brando goes to let Kelly’s Caterers in, and, of course, all of Beverly Hills is also on the doorstep. So in comes David in his Ultra Baggy Baggies and satanic George Michael goatee and shaved head (It was the bathroom in the Will Rogers Memorial Park, Davy. See you around 4 a.m., okay?), and then Donna with her hair piled in shellacked tubular curls pinned haphazardly around her skull, which signals her own personal Sophistication and Style (no comment), her Dem Bones body encased in a long slinky sheath dress with the requisite boob sling to display her Cavernous Chasm of Cleavage. With her, of course, is good ol’ spiky-haired Noah the Mistake-ist (innit amazing how someone can be so earnest about their non-emotional state?).
Amidst all the BH Buddy Chitchat, Brinda is still disconsolate and left out, clearly pegged as an “Outsider” in her grubby sweats. Then Kelly swirls downstairs in an icy pink silk Chinese cheongsam sheath dress with her icy blond hair newly shellacked and extra swoops of shadow and liner raccooning her eyes because, see, Kelly is a Successful Modern Woman: she works, she’s beautiful, and she can throw together tasteful dinner parties for all her friends just like *that* and everyone loves her and she’s got a totally awesome boyfriend and lives in not one but TWO cool Los Angeles abodes and is basically everything that we as women should be striving for. So Kelly makes her entrance, cooing “Well, hello everybody” then adding pointedly “Brandon, have you offered anyone a glass of wine?” because the perfect dinner party includes the perfect hostess offering (via her perfect boyfriend, to emphasize that this is THEIR house and THEIR party and they are the Perfect Couple for having all this wondrous perfection) perfectly tasteful drinks and hors d’oeuvres
So The Gang (sans Brinda the Outsider) gathers in the weirdly-blue-green splendor of the Casa Walsh Living Room (do they still have that stupid carousel horse, too?), drinking white wine and talking. Brandon, of course, begins complaining about the paper, how that Mean Nasty Ohndrea is so full of herself and is taking over everything and won’t let him write his editorials and is making him write an article about a stupid restaurant –
“But how can she DO that?” coos Kelly, glossy lips pursed in a confused moue “Doesn’t she know how *talented* you are?” But her pouting and squeaking is interrupted by the arrival of Steve and his girlfriend... Tara/Kara.
So everyone does the “Steve’s with a girl” version of the “Hey bro” handshake/high-five greeting ritual. And then Stevie, with his hair blow-dried to within an inch of its sparse but queenly springy limit, puts his arm around his new girlfriend. “Everyone... this is Kara” he introduces, and then leans over to nibble behind Tara/Kara’s ear with a ribald growl.
Tara/Kara giggles, exclaiming “Steve!” before dimpling at The Gang. “I’m so happy to meet you all!” she cheers, squirming and giggling some more as Stevie says “I’ll be happy to MEAT you later, mmmm? Heh heh heh” and dives for her neck again. Brandon and Noah do another manly high-five and “oh yeah” in honor of Stevie’s comment. Donna smiles stickily (that lipstick, remember?), David shifts and laughs out his nose, and Val says hi.
But Kelly makes that Oh So Interested in This Person pigeon-like movement forward with her head, walking over to Tara/Kara, offering a lovely glass of chilled white wine. “So, Kara, Steve tells us he met you... Steve tells us you work... Steve... well, actually Steve hasn’t told us anything. What do you do?”
“Oh, I’m a model!” beams Tara/Kara.
“Reeeeelleeee?” sings Kelly, with another one of those head-jerks, her penciled eyebrows raising as she obviously takes in Tara/Kara’s appearance: long, black hair (well, wig), tight black pleather jacket with a matching skirt, purple bustier, glitter sprinkled on her cleavage and cheekbones, over-lined lipstick in a maroony shade that makes her look even more sallow. “I used to model, too! What have you done?”
“Oh, I was once on the cover of Seventeen!” chirps Tara/Kara
“Reeelleee? So was I,” says Kelly, pursing her lips, either on to Tara/Kara’s bullshit, or just pissed that someone might upstage her.
“Oh, I know!’ gushes Tara/Kara. “You looked so beautiful! And I loved the article on you that they wrote! Did you graduate from California University?”
“Yes, we all did.”
“And you majored in psychology?”
“Yes. I work at the [Whatever] Foundation right now.”
“Wow!” gushes Tara/Kara in a frenzy of Kelly Taylor worship.
“Yeah, Kelly’s really a savior,” throws in Val, with a beamingly innocent yet oh-so “I’m up to something” smile.
Kelly starts to huff at Valerie, but Brinda stomps into the living room. “Kelly, the caterer said to tell you the dinner is ready. I’ll be upstairs. Thanks for inviting me,” she says in that Ultra- Brinda snippy voice.
“Well! ... Follow me everyone!” Kelly, Queen of Dinner Parties, gesticulates with her lovely glass of chilled white wine to invite everyone to partake.